Stunned American racing fans cheer a ranked underdog’s fairy tale victory in the Kentucky Derby, the nation’s biggest and richest horse race.
An unlikely outside chance Rich Strike showed the pitch a clean pair of heels as he passed the winning post from Churchill Downs at 80-1.
The Eric Reed-trained colt only made the rounds on Friday with the Ethereal Road scratch, but came home from an unpromising position under jockey Sonny Leon to stun favorites Epicenter and Zandon.
The winner had just a couple behind him entering the backstretch, with the first half-mile run at near sprint speed.
Leon made his move around the bend at home outside Mo Donegal, weaving his way through traffic and finding a lane on the inside rail, before cutting outside Messier to rush late and deny the epicenter of Steve Asmussen, who had taken over at the top of the stretch. Zandon was third.
Classic Causeway, driven by Australian Brian Lynch, finished 11th out of 17 runners.
From tragedy to triumph
It was an unlikely success for Reed, who lost 23 of his horses to a barn fire in 2016.
“I fell in the paddock when he hit the wire, I’m so happy. That’s why everyone does this – we’re not supposed to be here, but I knew this horse loved the track and he’s been training so well all year,” he told NBC Sports. .
Owner Richard Dawson said: “We would never put a horse in a race that we didn’t think had a chance of winning, I promise you that.
“We just knew we had a chance, because every time he went further (in distance) he got better. Today we hiked a mile and a quarter and he kept going.
A jubilant Leon said, “Well, I feel really happy, you don’t know how excited I feel. I brought my whole family with me, my daughter’s first time in the Kentucky Derby, my first time and we did it
“I know my horse, I know I had a horse for this race, I didn’t know if he would win the race, but when we were in the race in the last square meter in the last (part of the race) I can I feel like my horse was tough, he was tough
“Wow, I tried to be nice and easy and run to the back (of the pitch), and that’s what I did, when we were turning home, I found a bit of traffic, but I never freaked out, I waited my moment and crossed the straight and was like, ‘I think I got that, the Kentucky Derby.
“It was amazing – amazing, especially the way we did it, in the last 50 meters it’s a dream come true.”